In today’s world, books and movies dominate some of the most major forms of entertainment. Their ability to transport readers and viewers to another dimension is undoubtedly one of the most unique prospects of the human mind’s boundless creativity.
Over the last several decades, it’s been up to authors, directors, and entire casts and crews to bring some of the coolest fictional worlds to life, but there are a chosen few that have truly made an impact on the world. Here are the top 10 fictional worlds (most of which we totally wish existed).
Lewis Carroll’s almost two century-old fantasy novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, followed a young girl named Alice discovering an imaginative world filled with unique creatures and unusual settings. Since its creation in 1865, the wildly popular story has been adapted into films and books. Its cultural influence continues to impact the fantasy genre and pop culture today.
In the original story, Alice chases a white rabbit muttering about being late. She follows him down a rabbit hole, which sets her out on a whimsical tale through Wonderland. Although there are many odd elements that give Wonderland its originality, perhaps the wonkiest are its inhabitants.
From wild animals that can talk all sorts of nonsense to a striped cat who can go invisible, the things that Alice encounters during her time in Wonderland were nothing short of bizarre. In addition to that, the fictional world featured talking flowers, pathways and doors that would magically reveal themselves, and edible creations that would make Alice grow big or small.
In more recent versions of the story, the name Wonderland has been interchangeable with Underland, where the world teeters between the leadership of two queens – one with a fixation for dead things, and another with a head twice the size of a watermelon.
Although Wonderland’s origins saw it as more of a delusional place than a fantastical world, throughout time the magic within the story prompted its growth as one of the most unique ever created.
The classic novel and subsequent animated films of Peter Pan, originally created by J. M. Barrie, introduced one of the most popular realms via Disney. Peter Pan is a fictional young boy who had the ability to fly with his fairy friend, Tinkerbell, between the real world, set in the 1900s, and the magical world of Neverland.
Neverland is a series of exclusive islands, discoverable by traveling to the “second star to the right, and straight on till morning.” Within the land are several prominent zones, each of which feature distinct environments, characters, and elements.
There’s Tiki Forest, a jungle filled with an array of regular animals such as monkeys and parrots; Skull Rock, a rocky cove shaped like a skull where pirates often dwelled; and Crocodile Creek, a swampy land where the infamous Crocodile, who often tortured the villainous Captain Hook with the mere sound of his approach, lived.
Speaking of Captain Hook, he was one of many interesting characters residing in Neverland, alongside his sidekick, Mr. Smee, and a ship full of pirates. In addition to the crew of the Jolly Roger, the magical island is home to fairies — most prominently Peter Pan’s friend, Tinkerbell — a variety of common animals, mermaids, and the Lost Boys – boys carried to Neverland by fairies when their families never came looking for them.
The extraordinary world of Neverland is renowned for its perfect marriage of mythical creatures and normal entities. Its enchanting atmosphere and charismatic cast of characters score it a spot in the hearts of children and adults alike, as it familiarizes people with the wonders of being young, as well as the realities of growing up.
8. The Land of Oz
As with many of the fictional worlds on this list, the Land of Oz was a magical place introduced in the original novel, The Wonderful World of Oz. Released in 1900 and aimed at creating a wondrous story for children, the storyline has evolved similarly to that of Alice in Wonderland.
Young Dorothy, a girl who lived with her aunt, uncle and dog, Toto, encountered a tornado that threw her Kansas home into the Land of Oz, unintentionally killing a wicked witch. She meets a good witch who sympathizes with her accidental arrival.
The only way to return to her home is to reach the Emerald City, where only the Wizard of Oz has the power to send her back home. As the story follows her intense journey through the Land of Oz, she meets several key characters including the Scarecrow, a Tinman, and a Cowardly Lion.
The three of them are in search of a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively, and agree to follow Dorothy on her quest to reach the Emerald City. Not only do their distinct personalities make them an excellent addition to the whimsical world, but their creative elements truly capture the essence of what the Land of Oz is all about.
From flying monkeys to golden brick roads, a sturdy fictional world is represented by characteristics that define and separate it from other creations. The Land of Oz stands out for its original approach on a power play between differing, eccentric forces, as well as a higher power that comes in the form of the infamous Wizard of Oz.
In Tron, the protagonist (a young Jeff Bridges) gets stuck in a world inside a computer and does his best to escape it. Released in 1982, the film was praised for its stunning visuals and unique storyline.
Because of its moderate success, the concept was resurrected. The 2010 sequel featured some of the most amazing special effects and digital enhancements of the decade. The world of Tron is set within a mainframe computer, activated by special codes that transport the user into a world composed of electronic elements.
In the most recent adaptation, Tron is set in Tron City, a parallel universe of the real world located on the Grid, which was originally created by Jeff Bridges’ character, Kevin Flynn, in the original movie. Perhaps the most defining element about the Tron world is its contrasting color scheme.
Despite being darkened by a cruel dictatorship, Tron City is lit up with bright lights strategically placed throughout the world like circuits. These same lights follow vehicles in Tron, blue represents good transportation and illuminates much of the city, while orange depicts the dictator and his crew.
Beyond the plot of Tron, which ends in the world splitting apart, the concept of real-life action meeting computer-created designs gives Tron City a distinct edge. Unlike most fictional worlds, Tron is not based off mythology or magical beings, but instead was created via technology, earning it a spot as one of the most incredible fictional worlds to date.
The 2009 film, Avatar, fastforwards to the year 2154, where Jake Sully, a U.S. veteran who lost his legs in the Marines, is shipped out to the planet Pandora. After his twin brother, Tom Sully, was killed unexpectedly, Jake must take his place in the expensive Avatar Program.
The program consisted of flying out to the foreign planet and connecting with a specially made Avatar body, which represented the indigenous race of the Na’vi. Filled with special flora, fauna, and unique wildlife, Pandora was home to an assortment of different species that connected deeply with the world around them.
Specifically, the Na’vi lived in Hometrees, which spanned hundreds of meters tall, and were structured with vast limbs and spiral staircases to create a definitive home for the many clans that lived on Pandora. Similarly, the Na’vi felt linked to every natural element that made up the world, as their cultures and beliefs attached their very beings to the environment around them.
Like Earth, the geography of Pandora inhabits a variety of ecosystems as well as differing races and animals. While the world isn’t necessarily a magical one, its spiritual connections between all of the creatures throughout the vast planet give it an enchanting edge.
For example, the Na’vi are known for linking themselves to large dragon-like creatures known as Mountain Banshees, which are used to travel and battle. Bonding with one is an incredibly dangerous act but it identifies a true warrior in many of the clans that inhabit Pandora.
The special connection that each dweller has with the world surrounding it only adds to the stunning culture and beautiful environment substantiated in the world of Pandora.
The world of Fantastica originated from The Neverending Story – a tale of a young boy intrigued by a book he finds after being chased into a library by several bullies. Led by the beautiful and enigmatic Childlike Empress, Fantastica is a magical land home to luckdragons, giants, and The Nothing – an entity that is threatening the survival of the Empress and the entire realm.
Because of this, a young warrior named Atreyu is chosen to find a cure. The world is home to a cast of incredibly diverse characters. Most prominently is Falkor, a luckdragon who aids Atreyu in his quest to save the Empress. He was a graceful creature with soft, albino fur and a body that spanned 43 feet long.
Despite being so beautiful, there were many inhabitants of Fantastica who were quite the opposite — gnomes, giant rock creatures, and odd combinations of bird, elephant, and monkey humanoids. The oddities of Fantastica contrasted interestingly with the exquisiteness that much of the realm evoked, and similar to other fictional worlds, the geography also represented this.
Throughout the world, the inhabitants often match the area that they are a part of. For example, the rock giants live amongst massive boulders and dirt. Despite being a slightly lesser known fictional world, Fantastica lives up to its name by combining whimsical theatrics with darker themes.
The Hunger Games trilogy and its followup four-part movie series swept away audiences with an incredible and twisted storyline, stunning visuals, and characters that displayed every human emotion imaginable. The plot focuses on a dysfunctional Capitol, where two children from each district are pitted to fight each other to the death in the annual Hunger Games event.
Yet, the fictional world it is set in is even more captivating and horrific. Panem is comprised of 13 districts and the Capitol. Run as a dictatorship, the Capitol is home to privileged groups of people who dress in alarming ways of fashion, complete with cat whisker implants and multicolor wigs, and cheer on the most prolific and gruesome event of the year.
Each district represents a different industry, including electronics, transportation, lumber, and coal. From these lands one male and one female are chosen to compete in an advanced arena filled with weapons, limited resources, and a serious case of kill or be killed.
Despite the deprivation of many districts, Panem is incredibly advanced. Their technological capabilities far surpass the real world. Some examples of this include futuristic weaponry, transportation, and the arena in which the Hunger Games competitors fight in.
The arena is filled with horrors implemented via state-of-the-art computer systems. Overall, what is truly captivating about this fictional world is how it meshes cutting edge technology with the stark realities of death, starvation, and violence.
J.K. Rowling is the fantastic author behind the wildly popular Harry Potter series, which spans seven books and eight films. Focusing on the true magic of witches and wizards, the story is set within the real world, however among mere mortals — or Muggles, if you will — are magical beings living within their own means.
Despite coexisting with humans, there are several places within the wizarding world that are solely available to witches and wizards. One of the most renowned places is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school provides education for children aged eleven to twelve up until they graduate, traditionally around ages sixteen to seventeen.
Once they are old enough, the child receives an invitation letter in the mail congratulating the new student on their acceptance to the school and informing them of how to complete all of the requirements to attend. Throughout the books, Hogwarts is the primary location even though there are many other magical places throughout the world.
The famous school is a massive castle surrounded by a deadly, enchanted forest, a lake filled with mermaids, and a hut belonging to an animal-loving half-giant. Inside, Hogwarts is vast, with endless stairways — including some that turn all sorts of directions — rooms that disappear, and portraits that are painted with rather talkative portraits.
Students cast spells, charms, and brew potions of all varieties within the historic castle. And with ghosts floating around and a library stocked full of books about transfiguration, many children have wished they could someday attend Hogwarts.
2. Star Wars Universe
Star Wars is the highly acclaimed media and film franchise created by George Lucas, which hosts a variety of unique characters throughout several phenomenal trilogies. The series is set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” in the depths of space among over 3.2 million inhabitable systems.
The Star Wars galaxy is a voluminous and captivating realm, home to many different planets, concepts, and unusual life forms that continue to evolve today. Within these regions, the number of unique creatures and creations is boundless. The Star Wars Universe is special because it combines alien entities with futuristic elements.
A few of these depictions include Jabba the Hutt, a prominent crime lord who has the shape of a swampy, slug-like species; Chewbacca, a Wookie who was the co-pilot aboard the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo; and and R2-D2, a useful droid who served several masters with his intelligence and bravery.
Like many other major universes, the world hosts a broad quantity of planets and inhabitants. Because of this, Star Wars continues to grow and expand to this day with new species and technology rapidly progressing the realm’s capabilities.
Despite the initial franchise beginning in 1977, a skittish yet loyal mini-droid, BB-8, made his debut in 2015 – a remarkable 38 years later. For this reason, Star Wars is one of the most dynamic fictional worlds to this date, proven by its extensive fanbase spanning across four decades.
The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of seven books by C.S. Lewis. Created in the 1950s, these fantasy novels are some of the most influential and well known publications of all time. Influenced by mythology and other fairytales, this collection of stories is as effortlessly magical as it is captivating.
The tales have been adapted into several movies that depict the world of Narnia in many different ways. It captures a vast array of creatures, biomes, and power struggles. The inhabitants of Narnia are primarily creatures that are descendants of the ancient lion, Aslan.
In addition to that, a variety of humans also crop up throughout the tales, having populated the realm from the real world. For example, in one of the most popular book-to-movie adaptations, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four siblings find themselves traveling through a massive wardrobe into the land of Narnia.
There, the White Witch has control over the world, casting it into an endless winter. Throughout the journey to stop her, several mythical creatures are encountered including talking beavers, foxes, fauns, and dwarves.
There are many worlds that make up the realm. These are considered parallel universes, where many of the same creatures dwell. Perhaps the most magical thing about Narnia is in its vastness, and how it seamlessly incorporates so many different elements into a single, wondrous fictional universe.